CTA Improvements Open Opportunity
The announcement by the CTA last month about rebuilding the Clark Junction where the Brown, Purple, and Red Line tracks cross is big news to employers. One of the greatest competitive strengths of the Chicago area is our transit network that connects people with economic opportunities. A 2012 report by the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University found that bringing transit into a state of good repair provides over $1.5 billion in annual benefits and could provide an additional 15,000 to 41,000 jobs in the region.
Make no mistake about it, transit is an increasingly important tool to attract the best and the brightest workforce for Chicago businesses. In March, transit ridership across the country reached its highest level in over 50 years. Today, transit in the Chicago region carries more passengers than it has at any time in the last 20 years. CTA has contributed to that growth by reducing congestion on their system while improving all-around service. This is another step toward improving our global competitiveness by providing world-class service to the region.
The stretch of track where those lines converge is over 100 years old and plagued by delays. This rebuild will allow this stretch of track to meet future capacity needs for decades to come, result in less wait time at stations, and improve the overall reliability of the affected rail lines. These quicker, more predictable trips will move people to and from work when they need to and encourage more people to take advantage of transit. Since the last major platform renovations on the Brown Line in 2009, CTA ridership has increased more than 30% while the overall number of trips by rail have continued to trend upward since 2007. It’s not hard to imagine what happens to ridership when you combine platform renovations with fewer delays.
This is transit’s next step forward in the Chicago region. The Red Line’s south branch reconstruction last year reduced the time it takes passengers to travel from the south side into the loop. The development and planning of bus rapid transit (BRT) lines will bring frequent and dedicated transit beyond what rails can reach while Blue Line renovations will bring much needed improvement between O’Hare and the Loop. Very rarely will one project fix everything; however, a series of projects can improve a system and increase the attractiveness of a region as a place to live and work.
The result of all of these improvements? A world class system that helps connect employees to opportunity.